Wow, it’s so good.
Even for “Doom Patrol,” it’s so good. It’s a very “Doom Patrol” episode, too; the team has a mission, then something happens, and they have to go on a side mission. Given guest star Mark Sheppard finally reveals there’s a narrative reason for the main cast to remain young, it’s not impossible the show will finally acknowledge its way of detouring the characters through arcs instead of action sequences.
Though, it’s really only Diane Guerrero and April Bowlby who are “staying” young. Brendan Fraser and Riley Shanahan are a robot (exceptional physical performance from Shanahan this episode). Matt Bomer and Matthew Zuk are radioactive, so they probably don’t age regardless of magic. Then Joivan Wade and Michelle Gomez aren’t part of the original “Doom Patrol,” at least as far as how Timothy Dalton (who appears in recap footage) saved them from death.
Now, after three seasons, we’re getting some more details on that process.
Until Bowlby accidentally gets everyone cursed (not Bomer, sorry, he’s off on a mission), anyway. She wakes up from their adventure a couple episodes ago (last episode not featuring the regular cast and instead catching up with Abi Monterey, who’s not in the episode despite the recap only being about her) and discovers she’s not young anymore. But since Wade didn’t check on her, she misses the team briefing where Sheppard explains the season big bad is after their “longevity.” And it looks like Bowlby lost hers.
So she snoops around Dalton’s office and finds something she thinks will help. Instead, she curses everyone (not Bomer) with de-aging, initially hormonally, but eventually physically as well. With a furious Sheppard taking charge, they head off to Toledo in search of a cure.
They make it one pit stop before Gomez and Bowlby get into an argument and abandon the group, while Fraser and Guerrero find some fellow youths who know about a great party.
It ends up being an excellent episode for most of the cast. Oh, right—Bomer. He’s off trying to find the alien energy parasite baby and instead finds himself trapped in returning guest star Sendhil Ramamurthy’s flashbacks. It turns out they’ve got a lot in common. It’s a good arc. Excellent performances, but dealing with more significant issues than the rest of the team, who have some elementary problems they just can’t figure out how to solve.
Wade’s still upset old friend Elijah R. Reed has given up on him after not hearing anything for ten years, Guerrero’s feeling guilty about enjoying driving the body (and not feeling like it’s hers), and then Bowlby still really hates Gomez. Justifiably.
Outstanding performances from Guerrero and Wade, but Gomez. Wow, Gomez. She gets one hell of a scene. And Sheppard, too, gets far more textured scenes than his bellowing curses suggest.
It’s a great episode. Excellent direction from Chris Manley, but the script (credited to Shoshana Sachi) is just phenomenal.
Oh, and the music—Kevin Kiner and Clint Mansell do even better work than usual, especially with Guerrero’s big scene.